Embodied Perspectives

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Close up image of domesticated Asian civ

Could I gain knowledge of the civet through our shared biological processes?

 

 

Maybe with the help of a coffee cherry.

Biography

Through the medium of art, literature, storytelling and ethnography, we collectively explore the shared heritage held between humans and animals within global commodity chains.  Specifically, we investigate kopi luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, traditionally produced from the excrement of civets.

With the rise of capitalism, civets’ relationships to humans have been transformed from one of fleeting local encounters to being an exploited other, as commodifiable goods and cultural symbols. Increasingly confined for industrialized kopi luwak production and tourism, civets find themselves ensnared within a politically and economically driven world of human-civet domination. 

 

As an interdisciplinary collaboration between anthrozoologists and visual artists, we seek to problematize the commodification of wild animals and their “products”. Our collaborative work traverse the concept of “becoming with” another species by instrumentalising our own human bodies. By uilising that in which we physically share with civets we attempt to create a new form of storytelling where the animals' perspectives are observed through our shared biological processes.

On the one hand, explicitly addressing these concerns brings possibilities of positive social change for multi-species coexistence. On the other, our chosen method of multispecies storytelling brings about the need for further ethical consideration. 
To date, our project has culminated in the following works:

 

  • 80g Human Coffee Beans (the rarest coffee in the world)

  • Video Performance detailing the production process of Human Coffee

  • Scientific article 'Technologies, Bodies and Faecal Matters: Embodied Empathy with Coffee Producing Civets (in Press, Transpositions Journal)

  • SEM images of Human Coffee Beans and videos of the Scan Electron Microscopy process

  • Conference presentations and seminars

  • Auction of 20g Human Coffee (sold at 530Euro, thus exceeding the value of Civet Coffee and securing the status of the worlds most expensive coffee).


 

All works were displayed as the Human Coffee Room in the Harrie Liveart solo exhibition, hosted by Forum Box, Helsinki in March 2022 where we also presented a coffee seminar followed by the live auction of the worlds first Human Coffee.
 

Gallery

Like pearls the red cherries shine in contrast to the deep green leaves.
Like pearls the red cherries shine in contrast to the deep green leaves.

I instinctively pick one.

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I put it in my mouth.
I put it in my mouth.

My teeth pierces the skin, it is bitter.

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I return to my hiding place...
I return to my hiding place...

There I start selecting, cleaning, peeling, counting.

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For me this is now an experiment.
For me this is now an experiment.

I'm analytical, calculative, a bit concerned if I will be able to digest this.

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I see you...
I see you...

We pace back and forth between where we eat and where we shit.

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What would they say, if they knew...
What would they say, if they knew...

I came across half of the planet, disguised as a tourist to become closer with you.

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Human faeces are taboo.
Human faeces are taboo.

One must form conclusions with delicacy.

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The human-animal binary persists.
The human-animal binary persists.

Consumptionism pushes the civet to transgress from wild animal towards a biomechanical, mouth to anus, production line

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Reviews

Human Coffee

Sini Mononen, Culture Journalist, Helsingin Sanomat

The project combining animal ethics and avant-garde performance art is artistic research at its best: serious, surprising, unique and impressive at the same time.

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Anonymous Peer Reviewer, Transpositions Journal

“A highly innovative, transdisciplinary initiative, bridging a gap between science, art and humanistically-oriented animal studies… The concept of using researchers' bodies as both a research tool and research subject in order to scrutinize non-human experience, is bold, fresh and unconventional - and can no doubt provide a meaningful contribution to the field of human-animal studies.”

Collaborators

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Jes Hooper

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Jes is an Anthrozoologist PhD student and post graduate researcher at the Exeter Anthrozoology as Symbiotic Ethic's working group at the University of Exeter, UK.

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Meri Linna and Saija Kassinen

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Together, visual artists Meri and Saija form the art duo Harrie Liveart, currently in residency at the Pro Artibus Foundation in Finland.

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Collective Perversion

Harrie's current artistic research is an investigation into the usage of freshwater and its societal implications through the perspective of the toilet bowl.